Five steps to a healthy academic year

A common fear among college students is the dreaded “freshman 15” and “sophomore 10” that come from decreased physical activity and increased high-fat dining options, along with their bodies’ slowing metabolism.

Avoiding the extra pounds isn’t rocket science, but being uninformed about the resources available to you could make the extra weight gain inevitable.

The first step in maintaining a healthy lifestyle is easier said than done: Eat healthy food. J Street’s renovation and the addition of The Avenue have increased the number of nutritious food options, making the decision to eat healthier a little easier.

Equally important is when you eat. Skipping breakfast and loading up on food later can cause you to overeat. Avoid midnight snacking. That’s when your body’s metabolism is slowing down for the night.

The Student Health Center provides individual consultation appointments for information about nutrition, weight loss or gain, vegetarian diets and more.

Your second step: get moving. Go for a run, hit the gym, take a fitness class. In short, be active!

Membership at the Lerner Health and Wellness Center is free to students, and the registration fee for group fitness classes is $85 per semester for a full fitness package or $65 for a Mind and Body semester pass.

You can also try a new activity in one of the lifestyle, sport and physical activity courses offered through the School of Public Health and Health Services’ Department of Exercise Science. From scuba to squash, these courses offer something for everyone to stay active. Research shows exercise will even make you even more productive in the library!

Third, making responsible decisions when it comes to drinking will not only help you cut down on calories, it will also help make you a better student. GW’s Center for Alcohol and other Drug Education is a great place for resources regarding drinking and drug use. Beyond providing engaging programs, CADE compiles a weekly list of free or cheap alcohol-free events in the District.

To take your health to the next level, be sure your immunizations are up-to-date. We also recommend getting a yearly flu shot. Contracting an illness during the year will make it difficult to stay active.

The fifth and critical step is maintaining your mental health. Be patient with yourself and remain flexible to change. By realizing you’re going through a period of transition, and that other students around you are facing similar fears and emotions, you’ll be able to take steps to better connect with the GW community.

The University Counseling Center is a place to turn when you find yourself struggling to cope with your changing lifestyle. With its new fee structure for counseling sessions this year, getting the help you need won’t be limited by affordability.

Students interested in the health and well-being of their fellow Colonials can take further steps by participating in any number of peer education programs. Whether you want to volunteer and help in the new civility and community standards office, Student Health Services, CADE or the University Counseling Center, students are needed to help keep students healthy.

Be well. Be wiser.

The writers, Mark Levine and Julie A. DeLoia, are a senior associate dean of students and associate dean for academic affairs, respectively.

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